Kaidan Update: Work Continues; Two Secret Societies (by Jonathan McAnulty)
My sincere apologies for a lack of updates since the end of June. Origins was great, followed by a week of camp; and then coming home I had three funerals in fairly quick succession, a flurry of activities getting my children and their various 4H projects ready for our County Junior Fair (which is this week), a 20th wedding anniversary spent in the Hocking Hills area of Ohio (including one night in Ravenwood Castle; which has a very nice game library). What with one thing or another, there was always something more pressing to do than an update and before I knew it a month had slipped away.
As I alluded to at the beginning of June, I was hoping to have a little something different to share with you on my next update, but that has not yet developed enough to do so, so, I will instead share two small entries from our write-up on secret societies and the like. Kaidan of course is a very dark land, full of evil and corruption. But there are those who work to hold the darkness at bay, as they can. The two following brotherhoods are comprised of individuals who actually oppose the Shogun and might, in an heroic game, make suitable allies for PCs who wish to do the same.
The Brotherhood of Bamboo
A loose association of yokai, primarily henge the Brotherhood of Bamboo are the self appointed guardians of the yokai heritage, working through means both covert and overt to protect yokai from the machinations of the Shogun. The largest outpost of the Brotherhood, among humans, is in the city of Aki-jo, where they pose as ambitious merchants, always willing to buy and sell anything, including information, for the right price; but the brotherhood has agents throughout Kaidan, and many Henge living among the humans in disguise are affiliated with the group. Not all henge agree with the aggressive, albeit covert actions of the brotherhood, but there are enough that the brotherhood has an extensive reach into every corner of Kaidan.
The brotherhood derives its name from the three sacred bamboo groves of the yokai, and, among their other self-appointed tasks, they take great care to do what they can to keep knowledge of these groves from the shogun. The general password of the group is, “Iron is made to cut bamboo,” to which the countersign is, “Iron rusts while the bamboo grows anew.”
The Honorable Brotherhood of the Cherry Blossom
One of the oldest, largest and most organized groups established with a view towards overthrowing the Shogun is the Honorable Brotherhood of the Cherry Blossom, often just called The Blossoms, or The Brotherhood, by those who belong to it. Though the members of the society loathe the iron fist of the undead shogun, they are slow and meticulous to act, planning every move thoroughly, understanding that were they ever to draw attention to themselves, they would surely be undone. Well known to the upper echelons of the Brotherhood are the prophecies foretelling the fall of the Shogun at the end of a thousand year reign. Thus they work a long game, laying the groundwork for the fulfillment of the prophecies, fearing to push too soon and thus set themselves against the turning of the wheels of life.
No single member of the Blossoms knows more than a handful of other members and no one, besides themselves, are aware of the identities of the three individuals who lead the society. A pair of haiku, speaking to the hope and resolve of the society, aid the members of the Brotherhood in identifying each other. Every member is taught the first poem, the lines of which are used as signs and countersigns so that if one member hears another saying any of the three lines, they may identify themselves with one of the other two lines.. The second haiku is taught only to those who have proven their loyalty, and is again used for signs and countersigns to identify seasoned members.
melting hearts; spring thaw / snow white flowers on the trees / life following death
summer heat brings strength / blossoms bring forth hard won fruit / blood red on the leaves